9 BURNS NIGHT MENU IDEAS
Celebrated on the 25th of January every year, Burns Night pays homage to Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. The first supper was held in memory of Robert Burns on the fifth anniversary of his death. His friends gathered at Burns Cottage in Ayrshire to reminisce, recite his poetry, and talk about his life and career. Whilst considered a key cultural heritage event in Scotland, Burns Night festivities now occur all over the globe.
Commemorating Robert Burns, his achievements and his literary works remain at the heart of any Burns Night event with music, performances and Burns night traditions playing an imperative part. However, the food and the whisky are just as important, and most Burns Night menus are packed full of Scottish fare.
If you’re planning to host your own Burns Night party, be it a small gathering with family or a large-scale soiree, our ideas for Burns Night food that is simple yet delicious are guaranteed to help you serve up success. Plus, we’ll even share some fantastic The Glenlivet whisky cocktails that will pair perfectly with your menu.
Whilst starters are typically a small amount of food, they can set the tone for the evening’s menu and whet your guests’ appetites for the subsequent courses.
This thick Scottish soup is packed full of flavour thanks to smoked haddock, potatoes, and onion. It takes its name from the town of Cullen in Moray, where it is a local speciality.
Serve it with fresh, warm bread and a classic Whisky Sour. This cocktail is easy to make yet guaranteed to please, plus the lemon juice in its recipe will complement the fish.
Another soup, which is great for keeping things toasty in the cold January weather, cock-a-leekie is made from chicken and leeks. There are several variations of this starter, with some adding rice or barley to thicken the dish and others including prunes to add a touch of sweetness.
Although now a national Scottish dish, it dates back to 16th century France and the time of the Auld Alliance. Therefore, it only makes sense to serve up a cocktail of the same name. The Auld Alliance mixes 18-year-old whisky and Sauternes for a cocktail which is sweet yet savoury and wonderfully complex.
Scottish Smoked Salmon And Oatcakes
Oatcakes have been a staple of the Scottish diet since Roman times. Whilst basic on their own, they can be easily elevated with other toppings to make a delightful canape.
Smoked Scottish salmon is the perfect partner for these savoury biscuits. Layer with cream cheese and sprinkle with fresh chives. An Ool La La cocktail could work well here. It’s sweet and fruity but subtle and refreshing.
Often the most complex and substantial course of any menu, the main course gives you the chance to show off your culinary skills and combine plenty of wonderful flavours. For Burns Night food, hearty, warming dishes made from traditionally Scottish ingredients are preferable.
Haggis, Neeps And Tatties
No traditional Burns Night menu is complete without haggis as the star of the show. If following the standard running order of Burns Night, a haggis will be ceremoniously brought to the dining table before being addressed in a poem and cut open with a knife.
Haggis is a savoury pudding consisting of sheep’s pluck, minced onion, oats, spices, and stock. It has a crumbly texture and a warming peppery flavour. It is normally served with neeps and tatties, aka swede and potatoes. both of which are cooked, seasoned and mashed. If you want to change things up a bit, you can roast the potatoes instead.
As the highlight of the meal, you’ll want a cocktail that matches the sense of occasion but still lets the flavours of the Haggis shine. The Glenlivet Royale pairs 12-year-old single malt scotch whisky with champagne for an elegant yet impressive drink.
Roast dinners are popular throughout the year so it’s safe to say that offering one up as part of a Burns Night supper is going to be well received. Opt for a Scotch beef fillet to keep the dish on theme, and serve with crispy roast potatoes, seasonal veg and lashings of rich gravy.
Such a classic meal calls for a classic cocktail to go with it. We’d recommend an Old Fashioned as it will parallel the beef’s richness and depth.
Another beef-based dish, Scottish stew is ideal if you are looking for something you can prepare earlier in the day and leave cooking low and slow until your guests arrive. It’s usually made with tender chunks of beef and vegetables such as potato, carrot, onion, and swede.
To add an extra touch of comfort, you can top your stew with fluffy dumplings and pair it with a Bonfire Hot Toddy which includes ginger and cloves for an extra kick.
End the evening on a sweet note with a delightful pudding. Like with the other courses, there are plenty of traditional Scottish options to pick from.
The clootie dumpling is a steamed pudding whose name is derived from the word cloot, which is the cloth that the dessert is cooked in. It is made of suet and plenty of dried fruits and spices. It can be served with ice cream or custard and is sure to finish off your dinner party on a high.
Keep the fruit and spices running through to your drinks offering, with a round of Apple Cinnamon Spritzes.
Combining fresh raspberries, cream, toasted oatmeal, honey, and whisky, Cranachan is a popular and much-loved Scottish dessert. It was originally concocted as a celebration of harvest but is now served all year round and as the final flair to a Burns Night supper.
It’s straightforward to make and its distinct layers ensure it looks as good as it tastes. If you want something fresh to cut through the sweetness of this pudding, a Captain’s Quarter cocktail is a great option or if you’re looking to match the flavour profile of the dish, you won’t go far wrong with a Valley of the Bees.
Caledonian Cream shares some similarities with Cranachan in as much as it’s made with whipped cream and whisky, but it also contains marmalade, lemon juice and a little sugar. It’s simple but that doesn’t detract from the harmony of the ingredients.
To add a zing to the end of the night, a Golden Storm might be just the right cocktail. The ginger brings a subtle spice that will work well with the citrus flavours in the pudding but also refresh the palette and leave a lingering warmth that your guests can carry on their journeys home.
Get more inspiration with our guide to Burns Night traditions and discover other ways to incorporate scotch in your meal with our top ideas for a whisky pairing dinner.